Hit and miss

Forget Deep Impact and Armageddon. Boffins at Arizona University have come up with a software program that will estimate the seismic, blast wave and thermal effects of an impact from a hurtling meteor as well as the size of the crater.

Forget Deep Impact and Armageddon. Boffins at Arizona University have come up with a software program that will estimate the seismic, blast wave and thermal effects of an impact from a hurtling meteor as well as the size of the crater.

So if a 1km-diameter porous rock hit Sydney at a 70-degree angle, at a typical 51km/s velocity, we might feel the shake in high buildings. We'd see no direct thermal radiation, as the fireball would stay below the horizon. The final crater would be about 20km in diameter. Ejected debris would take 800 seconds (13 minutes) to land. The sound blast would be about as loud as heavy traffic (don't forget this is over 2000km away), though four million people complaining might drown it out.

Best of all is the disclaimer that comes at the end of the results for an impact query: "These results come with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY."

Far horizons

If you are wondering how to calculate how far it is from, say, Auckland to Sydney (2157km), a brilliant calculator figures the "Surface Distance Between Two Points of Latitude and Longitude" at .

Solar secrets

And speaking of Deep Impact, NASA has a project of that name which aims to discover the secrets of the solar system (quick question: how many planets?) by drilling a hole in Comet Tempel 1.

The objectives of the Deep Impact project (one of whose team members is Jessica Sunshine, who plays viola) are:

1. Observe how the crater forms

2. Measure the crater's depth and diameter

3. Measure the composition of the interior of the crater and its ejecta

4. Determine the changes in natural outgassing produced by the impact.

Just for one day

Hero > noun (heroes) 1 a man of distinguished bravery and strength; any illustrious person. 2 a person who is venerated and idealised. 3 in fiction, a play, film etc: the principal male character or the one whose life is the theme of the story. 4 originally a man of superhuman powers; a demigod 14c: from Greek heros.

If anything in the above definition, from the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, can apply to a computer gadget, we would love to know how. Yet co-opting the virtues of people who have gone out and done it against all odds is apparently not above some marketing companies. One has used the word as a kind of stand-in for "stand-out" for at least two of its clients' products. No word yet on what a certain French circus company thinks of "Cirque de Technology" as the name for the product roadshow, though L'Academie Francaise apparently already has a contract out.


Here's an idea to enourage those gasping over the Auckland harbour bridge come late October. Runners in the London marathon, which happened on April 18, were able to sent free text messages -- by way of their shoelaces -- telling friends their progress. UK telco Orange was offering every runner the ability to send three nominated people automated texts, says Ananova.com. A timing chip attached to the runner's laces interacts with sensor mats at various points along the course -- which starts at Greenwich Park and finishes at St James Park. The runner's name, race number, distance and time are turned into a personalised text message. All runners registered for the service were set to receive a "congratulations" message after crossing the finish line. Maybe it should have advised against doing the same thing next year, or directions to the nearest physio or cardiothoracic unit.

Best served cold

This one's not new, but we were intrigued when another site dug it up from the grave of internet archives. ESPN writer Jayson Stark writes about a usually unreported source of enmity on the professional baseball diamond: computer game revenge.

Stark reports that Phillies centre fielder Doug Glanville hit two home runs against his former teammate, Curt Schilling, in his first start against the Phillies. Not easy. "Curt's a friend of mine," Glanville said. "We used to play video games together. He killed one of my characters one time. I never forgot that."

He and Schilling were playing EverQuest -- an online version of dungeons and gragons. Schilling was playing his character, "Cylc" -- whom Glanville described as "a dwarven Cleric ... and he asked me to team up with him in Faydwer, in the zone of the Butcherblock Mountains, to kill Aviaks, which are basically walking birds. My good-natured character, Bingbong, a dwarven Paladin ... was at a little lower level [in status] than his. So Cylc was better able to withstand the return attacks. Nevertheless, we attack." Suddenly, Glanville began to hear the sound of Bingbong's bones breaking.

Schilling had sent a message saying, "RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" But he was already a mile away from danger and standing next to the guards that protect him. "Needless to say, my lifeless character was now chicken feed," Glanville says.

"Schill has to live with what he has done. He can tell whatever story he wants, but the facts are the facts. Bingbong was set up, led to an untimely death in the prime of his life for no other reason than pure malice. Things like that do not go unavenged."

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